The brief was demanding, but then again a great drama deserves to be hard-earned, yes?
On November 28 I asked blog readers to write about their favorite actor’s best role. Eight of you responded, with prose and poetry that wowed ockoala and Serendipity, my two guest judges. Thank you for writing from your heart, everyone. The judges and I have loved reading every single entry.
Now for the results. The three winners, who will each receive an English-subtitled DVD set of White Tower, are…
lovepark, Taohua and toopai!!
Congratulations! Thundie’s Prattle will be writing to you soon to arrange for the drama to be shipped to you. Happy, happy watching. You are in for such a treat!
To everyone who participated, and to ockoala and Serendipity for being such awesome and brave judges, THANK YOU.
Lastly, here are the winning entries (do also check out the other entries in my link above):
Park Yong-woo (as Hwang Jung, Jejoongwon)
We are introduced to a wild haired man who puts on a smile to hide his worries and frustrations. He is a prodigy but is belittled by society because of his class. Since birth, our wild haired man has casted his eyes to the floor and endured the pain and discrimination. Whether people kick, spit, curse or cheat him, this man continues living because he has a mother to save. Even coming from such a background and living as the scum of society, he still has a twinkle in his eye and smile that goes beyond comprehension. Even with the on slaughter of stumbling blocks that obstruct his way, he moves forward. He is So-geun Gae/Little Dog.
We see a man donning fake clothes and an identity. He tries to hide amongst the people but is discovered and almost killed. Nearly dead, he comes across an angel, and like a miracle, he breathes once more. Our man is an impostor but not with evil intentions. Fate, a frivolous and cruel mistress, had decided to give our man a choice: to return to the past or to start anew. Both roads are dark and riddled with holes, but our man chooses. He meets many strangers on his path, but three are most prominent: his teacher, his teacher, and his teacher. The first teacher is a kindhearted alien that leaves the man awed and staring like a school boy. This teacher has saved the man’s life not because he gave the man a fish but taught him to fish. Now, the man trails this teacher like a lost puppy who’s just found its home. He can be a handful but the glint in his eyes that thirst for knowledge makes any recipient fuzzy and blinded by a need to love. Our second teacher is brilliant and loving, and teaches the man to love not only others but himself, as well. The man respects this teacher and loves her with all his heart. His smile shines and his eyes twinkle only for her. He stutters like an innocent child and blushes in a way that makes the watcher get butterflies in their stomach because his purity and raw emotions are contagious. His words for this teacher ring from the bottom of his soul, “You are so beautiful.” The third teacher is strict and realistic. This teacher teaches the man that beauty only exists because there is an ugly. Without the shadow of the third teacher for the man to chase after, he would have never pushed himself tirelessly. The man may have hated the third teacher for his cruelty, but in the end, like a pupil who has realized the purpose of the journey, is only filled with gratitude and admiration. With his teachers, the man walks, often runs, but also crawls along his path searching for the light that seems so far away. Suddenly, fate with her fickle nature stops the road short. The man, ignorant of this fact, takes a step forward… At the sudden realization of the impending fall, a tear rolls down his eye, but he smiles with warmth. Despite his doom, he sees the gift of life: a small flower breaking through the March frost. His face conveys so many emotions that the watchers can only feel a lump in their throat and a pounding in their chest. Standing in front of death’s door, the man’s twinkle is still alive even if it’s obscured. The man is Hwang Jung.
We watch our man enter with pride. Head to toe in new clothes, his head is raised, and he is almost unrecognizable if it weren’t for his twinkling eyes and wide smile. Our man has changed. No longer a fake, our man is now a true gem among gems. However, the path remains difficult. Love ones are lost along the way, but our man cannot stop. Too many sacrifices have been made, too many burdens remain on his shoulders, and too many eyes watch his next step. Our man still has his warmth and innocence but a new kind of tiredness has befallen him. He falters because our man is not perfect. He is kind. He is pure. He is true. But he is not perfect, far from it. He hates, holds grudges, and wants revenge. Our man is given the chance to strike a blow to his enemy, the perpetual wrongdoer. Even if it goes against all his morals, the opportunity is too great to pass by. The longing shines in his eyes but the slightest quiver in his hand and face gives away his inner-turmoil. Though still wrought with conflicting emotions, his senses return, and we heave a sigh. Our man is able to continue down the path because his teachers and companions are with him as each step taken brings our man closer to the light. He is neither Little Dog nor a fake. Our man is the Hwang Jung, the one we have come to love.
Uhm Tae-woong (as Kang Oh-soo, Devil)
There have been many actors (and actresses) whose acting I’ve appreciated over the years…but a few performances that truly have stayed with me because they had a huge emotional impact on me. One of them is Uhm Tae Woong’s performance as Kang Oh Soo in Mawang. I haven’t liked his past two dramas and I have yet to see the one that is considered his best, but here is my two part poem. The first part deals w/the character of Kang Oh Soo (I wrote when I wasn’t paying attention to what I exactly had to write) and Part II deals with UTW.
The crushing pain of a wrong
A wrong you can’t take back
You fight it, fight it
As it tears you asunder
The thud of the basketball
The blood on your hands
Not yours, not yours
You stare in shock, in disbelief
When did this moment turn astray?
Oh damn this spot, this wretched spot
Each new case, with eyes tormented
Each new criminal behind bars
It’s not enough to wash the blood away
A paper thin wall that crumbles
From your father’s scorn
Your brother’s protection, your friends trust
Futile against the weight of the burden
A paper thin wall that crumbles
The cries his mother gave, those broken sobs
They echo, hollow and empty they echo
Against the guilt when you walked away
You wonder when this will end
The lost childhood you left behind
Forgiveness, can you forgive yourself?
And then from a dark avenger
Your time has come, but not this
Not at your friends’ risk
At their betrayal…or their death
Not at a fragile, could be?
Should be? Love
Or is it tentative friendship?
She knows the truth of the past
Your truth, his truth
Her truth falls as the cards scatter
She sees the light in you,
The darkness that consumes him
As you stare at the gun in his hands
That it should come to this
It wasn’t the road to redemption
But was a forgiveness of another kind
Yet you want it, want it desperately
(Will it bring you peace?)
This end to the guilt
This burden your eyes bear
As much as you fight it
The end is close, so close
And at that shot, you fall
Forgiveness—did it bring you peace?
When you first came onto the scene
Trying to woo Chunyang from her beloved
As the rich obsessive ajusshi
It wasn’t your looks that held me captive
Or the character that started out charming
That somehow became the evil angsty second lead
It was your charisma, your presence
The way it wasn’t you, but him
Somehow you ended and became him
The way your eyes reflected your possession
The way they changed to an obsession
That held me captive, intrigued
Intrigued at what you could do
I wasn’t alone in my impression
Even the media had a word or two
Two years later you left me in a daze
A man who lost his innocence
A cop seeking his path of redemption
His hands were stained with blood
An accident, horrifying of its kind
His agony became your agony
His desperation showed in your eyes
The acceptance of his fate
The way you accepted yours
Were you him, I couldn’t tell
Was he you, where did the lines blur?
The ratings may have not been great
And they say this wasn’t your best
Yet Kang Oh Soo stayed with me all this time
Jae Hee (as Lee Hyun-gyoon, 3-Iron)
Things I like in actors are (1) a winning natural charm and (2) versatility. I’m somewhat new to the K-addiction. While I’ve witnessed lots of understated, natural acting, and loads of charm where my favourite actors become one with their characters with such ease, I think they are better than this particular actor I will talk about. Yet, when thinking about sublimeness, he’s the one who comes to mind.
He’s the first K-actor I like. I first notice him in a lighthearted, delightful trendy drama as a goofball high school slacker who slowly transformed into a respectable police officer. I didn’t know how on earth did it happen that his next project I chose to watch was a Kim Ki-duk’s, whom Google said is a specialist of arty, indie, often obscure movies.
The next one and a half hour was magical. Completely gone were the traces of silly Lee Mong-ryong that I knew. From the moment he appeared as a quiet stranger clad in a black breaking into empty houses, only to… take a shower and do the laundry… he commanded my full attention. I sat up straight and was instantly smitten.
This mysterious silent man and his strange world were intriguing as hell. He chose to live as a visitor who peeked into others’ life and “borrowed” them for a few days, a tourist with no attachment. But to other people, he’s non-existent. Never did he utter a single word. Precisely because of his complete silence, his body language and gestures told his whole story, and they held me enthralled. Was he really as content as he looks? Was he a little bit lonely? He’s charismatic, graceful, enigmatic. And his eyes. My God, his eyes. Sometimes understated, sometimes incredibly expressive and louder than words, he conveyed a jumble of different emotions, a mixture of gentleness and violence, maturity and childlikeness. He’s discreet but good-natured; fixing broken things and – finally, finding the courage to mend a woman’s broken heart. Yet, his burning anger towards the abuser of the woman he loved escalated into violence. He exuded authority and confidence but in front of her, he opened up and showed his vulnerability. He made me smile, he made me sad, he made me swoon (oh swoon did I!), and through and through I rooted for him.
It was a touching portrayal of a lonesome man who was transformed, empowered and emboldened by the power of love. Long after the movie ended, I was tongue-tied and he refused to let go of my mind. I seemed to lose the will to speak myself, a little. That was Kim Ki-duk’s Bin Jip or 3-Iron. He is Lee Hyun-gyoon who’s better known as Jae Hee.